dr. brian day
The plaintiffs' constitutional challenge is straightforward: if the government does not provide timely medical treatment, then it cannot at the same time legally prohibit patients who are suffering on long wait lists from taking control of their own health care and arranging treatment privately.
The physicians involved in the Cambie trial protest that they have only medicare's best interests at heart. They point to the many western "European" nations that have two-tier health systems which are purportedly the envy of the world. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.
Since the inception of medicare in Canada, opinion polls in all parts of the country consistently show that a vast majority of Canadians believe in equal access to health care based on need, not ability to pay. Yet this is precisely what is at stake in the Charter challenge against medicare taking place in the B.C. Supreme Court this week.
Provincial governments remain incapable of providing access to care within a reasonable timeframe, yet continue to maintain their monopoly over the provision of medical care. It's time for policy makers to make the changes required for Canada to have a universal and efficient health-care system.
B.C. law prohibits residents from accessing private insurance to pay for medically necessary treatment in B.C. These prohibitions, together with the province's rationing of health-care services, has resulted in long waiting lists. Many residents in urgent need are forced to languish, suffering irreparable harm and risking death.
In the runoff vote ending this week on June 18, the physicians of British Columbia need to do more than elect a new president, they must also decide which values should guide the profession -- individual profit or the public good.
A case emerged in response to an audit of Cambie Surgeries, a private for-profit corporation by the B.C. Medical Services Commission. The audit found from a sample of Cambie's billing that it (and another private clinic) had charged patients hundreds of thousands of dollars more for health services covered by medicare than is permitted by law. Dr. Day and Cambie Surgeries claim that the law preventing a doctor charging patients more is unconstitutional.
Oh what a completely gratuitous way of getting you to read this blog! Shameless sensationalism, pure and simple. We try to be more high-minded than that at HuffPost, at least over here on the blog rail, where we would neverpost links to the red-headed royal frolicking around a Las Vegas hotel room in the buff, with an equally starkers "poker" (poke her? surely that's what the reports meant ...) companion. At most we would publish a serious think piece on the increasingly diminishing returns of the monarchy -- one which would thoughtfully weigh its relevance to our country, one which might indeed spark an important national debate on the topic.
Back in ancient times I was health minister in B.C. Much has changed. No one had heard of AIDS in 1979-80. Organ transplants were rare. MRIs were just gleams in inventors' eyes. One thing has however remained the same -- the debate over private medicine. In those days doctors were demanding the right of "balance billing," a euphemism for padding their bills. Now the doctors are mad at Vancouver's Dr. Brian Day for operating his own form of balance billing by running a clinic outside the Medical Services Plan. At this writing, Day is challenging the government to go to court and get an injunction against his clinic.
Does our belief in, and desire to have, a public universal health care system conflict with our human and individual right to have timely access to the care we need if the system is not responsive? That is the question that will soon be before the courts. Dr. Brian Day, former president of the Canadian Medical Association, is forcing the issue. He is now CEO of a private, for-profit hospital in Vancouver. We aren't supposed to have those in Canada, but we do. Everywhere. Why? Because there is a huge market demand for timely and quality health care that is not being met by the public system.